Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birthing Bubba II

Continuing on (first half here). This was our second trip to the hospital that day.  Previously we had been sent home after my being stuck at 3cm for several hours. Lucky for me, it meant I labored mostly in the comforts of my in-laws' house.

The car ride was hard during contractions.  They're hard to sit through; I wanted to stand up.  But it was a gorgeous, gorgeous spring morning, and I specifically thought "this would be a lovely day to have a baby." Baby agreed with me.

We found a shady spot in the hospital parking lot and walked inside.  I had a contraction and had to stop, blocking traffic in the middle of the hallway.  A nice lady from the hospital gift shop asked if she could get me a wheelchair.  No thanks, it's easier to stand. "Oh I know, sweetie."

Another one hit right outside the Labor & Delivery unit before they unlocked the doors for us.  Once inside, I announced to the nursing desk. "Hi, I was here this morning. Barb told me to come back when I couldn't walk or talk through the contractions anymore . . . and I think my water may have broken."  Oh okay.  No big deal.  They sent us to the exact same room and we did the same rigamarole as before.

Somebody did a swab test of the fluid and confirmed it was amniotic.  A nurse named Rachel came in and checked me.  "Girl, you're at 8cm!"  Oh thank God.  I was not going to tolerate another car ride.  I was pretty sure if they hadn't kept me I would have camped out in the waiting room until they did.  Or hang (hung? hanged?) out in the cafeteria and made a scene.

Things got busy.  They rushed through a lot of admission paperwork and started an iv.  I really didn't want one, cause I wasn't planning on having any drugs.  Rachel wanted one though, and I felt like I was talking to myself.  "It's policy. We can do a little one. Just in case of an emergency," she said.  Look, needles don't bother me.  Infection risks do.  I've got ropes for veins.  Any nurse worth her salt can get an easy iv on me in a pinch.  And I also knew that "it's policy" doesn't mean squat if a conscientious patient refuses something.  But I felt for her.  I know the anxiety of not having venous access on someone and let her put a #20 in my upper bicep.  I didn't want it in the way of washing my hands.  It stayed a saline lock until after delivery.

Ryan left briefly to get our bags from the car.  But when he came back, I didn't care about changing the linens anymore (yes. My own sheets came with me).  My only request was disposable chucks.  I'd seen what happens on the hospital cloth ones. Gross.  Under my bottom -- never.

Another nurse named Jaynie was working with Rachel and introduced herself.  She was orienting to the unit; she had previous nursing experience and was a Lamaze instructor.  Perfect!  She and Rachel were my new best friends.

It was about 1030 or so.  I stayed in bed because of all the monitoring equipment, namely the two discs that were strapped across my abdomen.  One monitored fetal heart rate and the other the strength of contractions.  During contractions I moved all around the bed, backwards and forwards and on all fours.  I think one of the nurses got me a second gown and helped me don it backwards because I had my bare butt up in the air at some point.

I was also making some kind of sing-song moan/humming.  Ina May wrote that opening your mouth helped open your cervix, and it did help distract me during contractions.  Or "power surges," mind you.  I was trying to follow directions.  The birth hypnosis book had really encouraged positive thinking and calm mental imagery.  Like, don't think of contractions as such.  Think of them as waves of strength; they're indicators of how strong your body is.  You're also supposed to visualize a flower bud gradually opening into a bloom, and your birth canal should follow suit.

It wasn't hard to be positive (I was so happy the baby was coming without an induction).  It was hard to focus on those damn flowers.  Ryan was texting family updates on his cell.  Jayne was massaging my back and telling me I was doing a good job.

I don't remember the specifics.  I would have to look back at Ryan's text history to trace a timeline.  I think we got to 10cm around noontime, and my doctor asked me if I wanted to push.  I did not.  I had zero urge to push.  Also, all the hippie-crunchy birthing stories had given me the impression that the contractions would eventually expel the baby on their own (yeah, yeah stop laughing.) and that pushing would stress the perineum and make you tear (often true).  Besides, in all those home water births on YouTube, the baby just slips out.

My baby was not slipping out.  Some time passed.  I was still moving all around the bed, bracing for contractions and trying to rest in between them.  Rachel kept moving the fetal monitor disc lower and lower on my abdomen as my son migrated south.  My doctor offered me some pitocin to help move things along.  My nurse immediately answered for me, "no, she wants to do this naturally."  I appreciated her backing me up.  At some other time we were also offered a "kiwi:" a vacuum device to help pull the infant out, and a local nerve block.  We passed on both.

At some point either Rachel or my ob told me that the baby was blocked by some anatomical landmark, and I would have to push his way past it.  The pubic symphysis?  Iliac crest?  I don't remember.  But pushing was weird and hard.  For months I had avoided exerting my stretched out abs, and now I had to call them back from recess and practically do crunches.  I never felt a desire to push, only a hard heavy pressure right below my tailbone.

My sister said, after she birthed her firstborn, that her ballet training helped her through delivery, that she knew her body could go where it did not want to go, and do more than she "felt" she could do. I'm far from athletic, but Martha made me recall those days when I used to be so. What she said reminded me that there had been times I thought I would pass out and die but didn't--like the 100 yard butterfly or the 400 IM.  Swim practices and drills that left you breathless and limp as linguine.

I'm pretty sure the 100 fly is harder than childbirth.  Just not as drawn out.  Fortunately contractions come hard but then cut you a break for a few minutes.

I pushed whenever contractions came, on and off for maybe 90 minutes?  Eventually Rachel said she could see my baby's head.  Things got busy.  She called in the nursery/pediatric nurse, she wheeled in the delivery cart which sort of looked like our code carts.  She got some lube and manually tried to stretch the perineum.  That hurt a lot, but I knew that midwives did it to help prevent tearing and I was thankful she took the initiative.  I mean, how would I have asked her?  "Excuse me, ma'am. Would you be so kind to massage my perineum please?"

They also brought in a big mirror so I could see the birth canal.  That was really encouraging; eventually I could see the top of my baby's head myself and knew the end was near.  Rachel and Jayne kept coaching me through the pushes.  I was pushing so hard I really thought the nurses were going to deliver the baby themselves, and I was quite okay with that.

I don't think Rachel called the doctor in until the last minute.  I don't remember that minute very well. I just recall closing my eyes and pushing with some karate chop shout and there was a big relief of pressure. And he was here : )

He was wet and bloody and purple.  The doc let Ryan cut the cord and they passed him to me to hold.  I remember kissing his slimy head.  He felt vigorous and had tone.  But he wasn't pink.  I tried rubbing his back to stimulate him, and then the pediatric nurse asked if she could work with him.  She took him to a table across from my bed, suctioned him out, and did some kind of baby bipap with him for a few minutes.  He pinked up, and I think Ryan held him after that.

Oh yeah.  "It" was a boy, all seven and a half pounds of him.  I don't remember being surprised because I had always felt he was a boy.  I always referred to him as "him."  I can't chalk it up to maternal intuition either.  During a really brief ultrasound our doctor once said he could tell what we were having.  I reckoned it was a boy since the sex was so readily apparent. (Not that that inclination stayed the purchase of many girl outfits from Baby Gap, just in case ; )

Meanwhile, the placenta came out pretty easily, like a floppy fish. I asked to look at it before it got tossed in the bio-haz bin.  "I promise I'm not taking it home or anything."  Pretty cool.  Very large and vascular.  It had been my baby's lifeline for the last 40 weeks.

I had a "little" second degree tear that my ob was stitching up, and my uterus was kind of boggy and still bleeding.  I thought I'd be helpful and do the single thing I remembered from my obstetrics nursing class: massage my fundus.  I also decided my drug-free experiment had run its course.  Hello, lidocaine!  I didn't feel any of the stitching.  They also gave me a whole bag of pitocin.  I looked up and saw the iv tubing cassette dangling from the pole.  "Uh, is that supposed to be on a pump?"  Apparently not; Rachel said it was supposed to be wide open.  Alrighty then.

Afterwards we made our first attempt at breastfeeding, and I ate the second most delicious meal of my life.  It was a cafeteria-grade turkey sandwich, tomato soup, and pudding, and I can't ever recall enjoying eating as much as I did then.

My little boy, on the other hand, was not as interested in food.  The nurses helped us latch on, but he just wanted to sleep and passed out after a minute or two.  Oh the irony.  Nobody knew we had a future non-stop suckler on our hands. 

Later I got out of bed, and Rachel helped me clean up in the bathroom.  "Don't look down," she said. "It's gonna look like someone was murdered in the toilet."  And she wiped the bloody baby slime off my face from where I first kissed him.

Anyhow.  That's our story.  I was really not comfortable with the idea of a hospital birth to begin with (I'm a germ-a-phobe all the way), but if we were to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing.  The nurses were great.  We really felt more comfortable having the professional support, especially for clearing the baby's airway and getting us started in breastfeeding.  We were not yet in our new house and still living with my in-laws.  So it was nice to have 48 hours to ourselves--just the three of us--even if in a hospital ward.

Oh, and I did put my own sheets on later ; )


  1. How did I miss three posts of yours??! Was so happy to read the account of what went down since I never got the knitty gritty deets while home over the summer. Can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving!

  2. " "Excuse me, ma'am. Would you be so kind to massage my perineum please?" Too funny. Argh, pushing is the worst. . . . So funny that he had trouble nursing at the very first. . . . When he's older and having trouble learning a new skill, you can remind him he had trouble eating at first. ;-)

  3. Birth stories written by nurses is my new favorite genre.